Google rules out closing its news service in Australia as it steps up its fight against ambitious plan to finally make it pay a fair price for news
- Google said proposed law changes by ACCC unfair and unworkable
- Claims advanced warning for algorithm changes would make search worse
- Search giant cannot close service in Australia due to widespread reach of law
- Google says happy to pay to license content but changes needed to Code
- ACCC has accused Google of spreading misinformation about impact
Published: | Updated:
Google has confirmed it will not close its popular Google News service in Australia as its steps up its public campaign against paying for news content.
The company posted an open blog to its website on Monday claiming the proposed legislation drafted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission requiring it to share revenue with media businesses was ‘unfair’ and ‘unworkable’.
‘Put simply, it’s extremely one-sided and unfair – so unfair that no company should be be asked to accept it,’ it said.
But Google admitted it was unable to withdraw from Australia like it did in Spain when forced to pay for news in that jurisdiction because the proposed law was so broad it would require the company to remove all global news by media firms and ‘citizen journalists.’
The ACCC has accused Google – which raked in $4.8 billion in revenue from Australia last year – of running a deliberate campaign of ‘misinformation’ against its attempt to hold the company to account.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has drafted a new law that would require Google and Facebook to pay news organisations for content
Google posted an open blog (pictured) saying the proposal is unfair and would give the media an opportunity to ‘game the system’ and opens them up to ‘enormous and unreasonable demands’
Google’s post, the latest salvo in what looms as a protracted war with the Australian press, said shutting down Google News was not an option as the company would have to undertake ‘a mass cull of content globally to stop them being visible to Australians.’
It would include blocking access to overseas sport, discussions of global health issues and tweets about current events.
Google said it was happy to pay more to ‘license content’ but warned the ACCC’s bargaining code was unfairly stacked in the favour of publishers.
‘We are not against a law that governs the relationships between news businesses and digital platforms. But the current draft Code is unworkable,’ it said.
Under the Code, Google and Facebook would be forced into arbitration with media companies if they could not reach agreement on a fair price for news.
The blog claimed the arbitration process did not take account of the ‘significant costs we incur in providing our services’.
‘The arbitration is set up to encourage news businesses to make unreasonable and exorbitant financial demands,’ the company said.
Google also raised concerns about the requirement to give news companies 28 days notice of algorithm changes, arguing the measure would provide an unfair advantage to media over other businesses – and stop the search giant from making quick changes.
Google wrote: ‘We are not against a law that governs the relationships between news businesses and digital platforms. But the current draft Code is unworkable.’
‘That’s 28 days before we can roll out defences against new kinds of spam or fraud, 28 days of extra delay before we can launch new features that are already available to the rest of the world, and 28 days before we can fix things that break.’
Last month, the ACCC announced Google and Facebook would be forced to pay media companies for the right to use their stories or face fines of up to $10million for breaching a copyright deal.
Google had been quietly negotiating revenue sharing deals with a several media companies but abandoned those discussions when it launched its ‘google down under’ campaign last week.
In an ‘open letter’ to its 20 million Australian users, it warned it could stop offering free searches due to the proposed law.
However the company backtracked the next day, admitting it had not intention of charging for services.
The ACCC declared Google and Facebook would be forced to pay media companies for the right to use their stories or face fines of up to $10million for breaching a copyright